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Monday, June 4, 2012

Microsoft's E3 press conference features an uncomfortable Joe Montana, Usher singing, very little surprises

I had low expectations of the Microsoft E3 press conference, so I didn't hate it that much like those who were expecting megaton bombs like an "Xbox 720" console reveal or tease. For those who follow the video game industry, it was predictable. And for those who watch E3 press conferences, it had those "Oh, please no." moments.

The big guns of Halo 4, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Tomb Raider, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and Gears of War: Judgement got attention. But most of these were talked about beforehand, ruining any suspense and excitement. Lara Croft moaning and groaning her way through rough terrains wasn't mind-blowing, and Black Ops 2 looks more of the same. Halo 4 features an interesting new enemy type, but the core gameplay looks nothing different.

The Xbox 360 is an all-in-one media hub, and Microsoft talked about more services coming to it. NBA and NHL content will be available, and Xbox Music will stream more than 30 million songs. The Watch ESPN app will give users 24/7 coverage of the popular sports channel. Internet Explorer (chuckles) will be available to browse online.

Xbox SmartGlass was announced, and it's pretty much a Wii U knockoff, allowing users to link their Xbox Live-enabled devices. You'll be able to watch a movie on one device, pause it, and continue on another. A smartphone or tablet can also be used as a remote control for the console, and games like Madden can be controlled from them. It will be available this fall, conveniently around the time the Wii U is expected to release. But will it be a big competitor? Doubt it, since it's all completely optional and much more costly.

As expected, Kinect got a lot of love. Nike will release a fitness game that will track the user's exercises and make sure they're doing it correctly. Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana made an uncomfortable guest appearance, showing off Madden 13 gameplay by yelling out plays. He said it was really neat. I'm sure everyone believed him.

Following the announcement of Dance Central 3, music superstar Usher gave a single-song performance. He probably got paid nicely for that gig as gamers around world cried in agony.

The highlight of the conference was the appearance of South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker discussing South Park: The Stick of Truth, which will feature the player as the new kid in town. They poked fun at Microsoft for all the connecting abilities.

Let's get a petition started to have them host the conference next year.

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